How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

Because we live in a computer-driven world, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness boils down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit agencies, each have a proprietary formula for building your credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following factors to calculate your score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The result is one number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most borrowers who want to get a mortgage loan have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Raising your FICO score

What can you do to improve your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Since the score is based on your lifelong credit history, it's difficult to change it quickly. You must remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

How do I find out my credit score?

In order to improve your score, you've got to have the credit reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from the three major agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and very inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Give us a call: (203) 729-6681.

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